What do you need to know about EHCP annual reviews?
At an annual review meeting, your child’s EHC Plan will be discussed. It is an opportunity to check if anything needs to be updated within the plan – this can include a change of school placement.
The meeting will be arranged by your child’s school, unless your child has an EOTAS package (education other than at school – i.e. home education), in which case the local authority should arrange the annual review. Either way, the local authority must be invited (although will not always attend), and other relevant people involved in supporting your child will also be invited– for example the SENCO, class teacher, and any therapists working with your child. These people will prepare reports to show the progress your child has made over the past year and to see whether the support in the EHC Plan is still working for them. You should be sent these reports 2 weeks before the annual review meeting. You can also collate any relevant evidence you would like to be considered at the meeting yourself.
It is important to be aware of the timescales associated with an annual review, as unfortunately there are often delays with decisions being made. This can then lead to a delay in updating and improving the EHC Plan for your child, and this then delays you being able to bring an appeal if you wish to do so. The important dates to be aware of are:
- Within two weeks of the meeting, the school should send back all of the annual review reports and paperwork to the local authority.
- Within four weeks of the meeting, the local authority must consider the recommendations, and confirm in writing whether it intends to:
a.) Maintain the EHC Plan as it is without making any changes;
b.) Amend the EHC Plan (in which case the LA must also send a notice specifying the proposed amendments, and give you 15 days to respond);
c.) cease to maintain the EHC Plan altogether.
- If the local authority has decided to amend the EHC Plan, the final amended Plan should be issued within 12 weeks of the meeting.
If you are unhappy with the local authority’s decision to maintain or cease to maintain the plan, or if you disagree with the changes made to the EHC Plan, then you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You have 2 months from the date of the decision letter to contact a mediator, and 1 month from the date of a mediation certificate to issue your appeal. If the local authority fails to comply with the timescales listed above, you could also consider a complaint, or legal action.
There are also special rules and timescales for “phase transfers” (i.e. moving from one stage of education to another) which we hope to cover in more detail in a later article.
At Rook Irwin Sweeney we are able to advise you on the annual review process, help you seek changes to your child’s EHC plan, and support you with any appeals process where you are unhappy with the outcome.
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